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It’s all about The Buzz Factor at Bramham 

The Sunday finale to the CCI4*-L U25 at the Defender Bramham International Horse Trials was all about clear jumping rounds. Warwickshire-based rider Emma Thomas, riding her own The Buzz Factor, held her nerve to produce an immaculate clear under the pressure of knowing she couldn’t have a fence down and still take the class and the coveted British U25 Champion crown. 

Going into the final phase, third-placed Isabel White and Icarus put the pressure on with a great round, which earned just 1.6 time penalties with all the poles in place, to end their event on 50.3. Next in was Cassie Sanger from the USA with the second of her two rides, Fernhill Zoro. Cassie expertly piloted the athletic bay and he didn’t look like touching a pole – clear all the way to remain on their two-day total of 43.6.  

It was then down to the wire for Emma and The Buzz Factor, a horse she’d originally bought eight years ago to do Pony Club eventing – they could afford some time faults, but not a fence. Emma looked brimming with confidence, having had a corker of a ride across the country yesterday, and the dark bay looked like the 10-minute course hadn’t taken anything out of him. They were faultless all the way and Emma let out a little squeal of joy as she cleared the final fence – fittingly, title sponsor Defender’s branded jump.  

After a taking in her lap of honour, Emma said; “I feel amazing… and it’s a massive relief, actually! It’s so hard because I know he’s so capable of it, but anything can go wrong in a split second and I so didn’t want to mess up. 

“I was thrilled with his [dressage] test – the score wasn’t great, but he was really in the mix, so you have to let that go. He was really rideable and with me the whole way, which was lovely. Cross-country yesterday, I was absolutely thrilled with him. He’s not been to a big party in about 18 months, so I got on and he was very fresh in the warm-up and out of the start box, but once he settled into a rhythm, we really got going. I had a run-out on him at the arrowhead at the top of the hill here two years ago, so once I’d jumped that I had a little internal ‘woo hoo, yes’, then had to refocus. Today, I really tried not to overthink it. I walked the course and I just tried to treat it like I was jumping at my local show. He’s not the most conventional, but I love sitting on him, and he really tries and is so scopey. I just love him so much, I owe my whole career to him,” she said with clear emotion.  

Second-placed Bramham debutante Cassie Sanger is now a firm fan of the event. She said; “I feel really relieved to be done  – it’s been a long week and quite stressful, but a really fun experience. Two horses have kept me busy, but I really like having my duo. It’s really nice to have two – if you make a mistake on one, you have a shot at redemption – the second time out you just feel more confident too.  

“My first horse, Redfield Fyre, is so green and he’s exceeded our expectations this spring. We never expected this – it was only about a month ago that we decided to enter. He’s such a good cross-country horse, but the dressage is a struggle for him, and it definitely was, but that’s okay because he’s just going to keep getting better and better. On Fernhill Zoro, I was hoping to put down our best test yet and I did far from that! On Friday afternoon, it was definitely a struggle to get my head back where it needed to be, but I’m proud that I was able to do that and go out on Saturday and just give it everything I had. 

“Bramham is different to what I thought it’d be. I was told it was hardest four-star there is and it really is – everything is just the highest calibre. It’s such an exciting competition,” she said.   

Third placed Isabel White reflected on her week with Icarus; “I’m absolutely thrilled with him. I’d hoped to have a good week, but I can’t quite believe we’re on the podium! My dressage didn’t quite go to plan – I thought he’d really light up with the atmosphere and he didn’t at all – and we slightly overworked him, but he redeemed himself and jumped brilliantly.  

“I’ve had him three and half years now, and he’s come on a long way and really strengthened up now. This is definitely the biggest atmosphere he’s ever seen and I can’t believe how well he’s coped, really. He’s quite shy in the stable, but loves a crowd and really comes to life when ridden. I’d like to think we could go five-star – he made the cross-country feel easy, which is a relief,” she summed up. 

Full results are available on https://bit.ly/DefenderBIHT2024timesandresults.  

Diary date: Defender Bramham International Horse Trials 2025 – 5- 8 June. 


The post It’s all about The Buzz Factor at Bramham  first appeared on Bramham.


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